There’s something to be said for decision making. One of the things I noticed a while after my diagnosis was that I had become terrible at making a decision and sticking to it. I began to waffle, and second guess all of my choices. Being a stay-at-home-mother was no different.
At first, when I found out I was pregnant with my son, I was enrolled in school and determined to stay there. I finished out my summer classes with straight A’s and moved onto the fall semester. I was a month in when they told me I was gestationally hypertensive (I had high blood pressure while pregnant) and to avoid preeclampsia I should avoid stressful activities. Also, I should stop exercising, as that could aggravate my condition.
I was so upset. It had thrown a wrench into all of my plans, and taken away my coping mechanism for anxiety and depression. But my pregnancy and the health of my son was top priority. So I withdrew from my courses, looked for new coping mechanisms, and set about planning a new path for me to get to my intended career: doctor.
Then, I had my son, and I laughed. And laughed. And laughed some more. It even sounded kind of maniacal. My husband just nodded, accepting that I’d finally snapped. There was no way I could go to school and manage this baby. My anxiety would never allow that, and I laughed as I recalled thinking before my son was born that I could do it all.
As the first two months came to a close, I was bored out of my mind. My husband had taken a month off work and I had relatives around to help me, so all I had to do during the first one and a half months was to feed, change, and burp the baby. Which was incredibly boring. I would never be able to be a stay-at-home-mom, who had I been kidding?
Then it happened.
My husband went out of town for a two month work training course, leaving me to fend for myself with the baby. No relatives, because we live across the country, and no husband to do all the extra work. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed. I was doing everything by myself, and my anxiety had spiked through the roof.
I felt myself spiraling. When the baby went to bed for the night, I would lay awake, wondering how I could keep up everything at this pace. And then, one cloudy morning, I woke up. I fed the baby, then put him back down for his morning nap, and went about my cleaning. I had made a “daily task list” in which I divvied up my chores as evenly as possible over the weekdays, giving myself a break on the weekends. I finished everything on the list, in about thirty minutes, and then moved onto the daily kitchen maintenance.
My son woke up, and the rest of the day was ours. It was spent reading, playing, and I even got to catch up on a t.v. show or two while doing some free weight exercises during my son’s afternoon nap. Suddenly, I realized I’d found a rhythm. I was no longer overwhelmed, and I was actually content. While I’d always kept it together when interacting with my baby, I was now noticing that I kept it together on my own, too. My house was relatively clean, I ate regularly, and the baby had a good schedule that we kept. I was happy.
It was then that I decided I wanted to be a stay at home mother. Being a parent had changed me, completely, in ways I never expected. But the change that startled me most was that I was learning to manage my anxiety through parenthood – something I had never thought was possible. That was the moment I made up my mind.
I realized I could do it. I felt empowered for the first time in a while. And it felt good.
– Monster Mama